The Scrubba Wash Bag Story
The mountain that inspired the Scrubba wash bag.
The idea for the Scrubba wash bag was conceived in 2010 when founder Ash Newland took a 4 month break from his job as a patent attorney in Australia and decided to travel to Africa to climb Mt Kilimanjaro with a mate. "During the planning stages for the trip, we realised that with all our cold weather and camping gear, we would only be able to pack a few changes of casual clothes. This led to the issue of how we would wash our clothes every couple of days.
After mulling over this issue for a few weeks, I was led to the idea of washboards - they have been around for centuries, and they work very efficiently. The downside is that they are bulky and require a sink or bucket. It was then that I realised that if we could incorporate a highly flexible washboard into a waterproof sealable bag, we could change how people wash clothes while travelling".
A couple of crude prototypes were constructed just days before leaving Australia, and Ash Newland spent each night after work in the week leading up to the trip drafting the provisional patent application. "As we didn't have a chance to try the Scrubba wash bag prototypes before the trip, the first use was in the small town of Moshi in Tanzania, and we were astounded by how effective it was". The concept had been validated, but the product was still far from hitting the market.
The route to market for the world's smallest washing machine
Following the success of the Scrubba wash bag prototype over the course of the four month trip, the prototype and intellectual property were further developed to license the technology. This approach changed in late 2011 when Ash Newland quit his job with an extensive patent attorney firm to focus on bringing the Scrubba wash bag to market.
"While we received positive feedback from potential European licensees, we realised that we needed to prove the market for the Scrubba wash bag". The company Calibre8 Pty Ltd was incorporated to put this into action.
The first significant step to making the Scrubba wash bag a commercial reality was in January 2012, when the concept for the Scrubba wash bag was launched on the crowdfunding platform IndieGoGo by Calibre8. While funds of USD2,500 were sought to assist with tooling, almost USD22,525 was received in pre-orders. "We were blown away by this level of support for our product, but this was quickly followed when we realised the enormity of manufacturing and fulfilling this amount of orders. This was accompanied by many sleepless nights as manufacturing and fulfilment issues arose and were overcome".
Following the crowdfunding campaign's success, which ended in mid-April, pre-orders were fulfilled in June 2012, and the Scrubba wash bag was officially launched onto the market. "As well as the early adopters from the crowdfunding project, we have received great support from the media including Forbes magazine, Lonely Planet, Buzzfeed, Gizmag and many of the major newspapers across the US, UK and Australia".
Fast-forward to the present, Calibre8 has expanded its warehousing to several countries to provide fast shipping options across the globe. The Scrubba wash bag models have also developed with usability and durability the critical areas of focus. "Our distribution and retailer network is also continually increasing, and the Scrubba wash bag is appearing on retailers' shelves worldwide".
While initially designed with backpackers in mind, the Scrubba wash bag has also become the best way to clean clothes for people on vacation, business travellers, students living in dorm rooms or small apartments, campers, hunters, cyclists, kayakers or people going on cruises. Whether it is so you can pack light, avoid hotel laundry costs, avoid searching for Laundromats, avoid potential hygiene issues washing in a sink, use less water or to have the freedom to wash clothes wherever you want, there is an aspect of the Scrubba wash bag that will appear to all travellers.
The washing machine that gives back clean water
Part of our decision to take the Scrubba wash bag to market ourselves has been to control the high quality of the product and to ensure that those in need are looked after. We realised on a trip to Laos and Cambodia that clean drinking water was scarce in many remote parts of the world and decided to dedicate a portion of our proceeds to tackling this issue.
We donate cash to projects that provide access to clean drinking water around the world for those in need. A selection of our supported projects is set out below.
Our donation of USD10,000 to charity: water to fund a well projects in Ethiopia
In December 2014, the team at the Scrubba wash bag donated $10,000 to charity: water to fund an Ethiopian well project in it's entirety. Once completed, the project will provide lifesaving water, hygiene and sanitation to a community in the Tigray region. The project will include the construction of a new drilled well that will supply more than 250 people. These deep wells typically supply more water than hand-dug wells, but the projects are more expensive as they require heavy equipment, fuel andlarger teams of skilled technicians. Your support has made this possible so thank you.
Our charity: water contribution of $15,000 to provide clean water to a school in Bangladesh
In June 2014, the team at the Scrubba wash bag donated $15,000 to charity: water to build the infrastructure required to plumb a water system for a school in Bangladesh. The project will provide an on-going supply of clean and safe drinking water for around 750 people as well as vital training in water and sanitation hygiene.
World Vision Emergency and Preparedness Fund
To assist in the humanitarian efforts in the wake of the massive destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the Scrubba wash bag has donated $1000 to World Vision's Emergency and Preparedness Fund. With millions affected by this crisis, we hope our small donation will assist in promptly delivering aid to the affected regions.
We were initially told about charity: water by one of our IndieGoGo funders, Lyston Peebles. Following some research, we like what we see and have made out first donation. charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries and 100% of all public donations directly fund water projects. As the Scrubba wash bag grows, we hope to be able to fund an entire water project through charity: water.
Rift Valley Reservoir Project
The overwhelming support for the Scrubba wash bag campaign on IndieGoGo allowed for our first significant contribution to be made.
Accessibility to water should be a right shared by all. With this in mind, $1000 of the money contributed to the Scrubba wash bag campaign on IndieGoGo was recontributed to an IndieGoGo campaign that is raising money to construct a reservoir in the Rift Valley Provence of Kenya.
Currently, what little rainfall there is in this region is rapidly washed away. The reservoir, which was recently completed will allow for rainfall to be captured and used by the nomadic Samburu people.
Image is from indiegogo.com/projects/samburu-trust-kenya.
We are on the lookout for other worthwhile water-related projects to support. Please contact us if you have any suggestions.